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Misconceptions About Sick Leave Credit

by John Grobe |

Since 1969 CSRS employees have been getting full credit for their sick leave in computing their pensions.  Changes within the last few years have allowed FERS employees to get half credit for their sick leave for retirements up through 12/31/13 and full credit thereafter.  Unused sick leave cannot be used to add to an employee’s length of service for the purpose of reaching retirement eligibility.  It will, however, add to the employee’s length of service for the purpose of computing their pension once they have reached retirement eligibility.

There are several misconceptions about how sick leave is credited for retirement purposes.  The most common one is that an individual must have their sick leave in even month increments in order for it to increase one’s length of service.  This is not true.

While it is true that only years and months (not days) of service are used for length of service purposes, the extra days are not dropped from the computation until sick leave is added to time actually worked.  The following example will help explain.

An employee’s length of service is determined by subtracting their retirement service computation date (SCD) from the date they retire.  Be aware that for some people the retirement SCD may be different from the leave accrual SCD that appears on an individual’s SF-50.  If you have any doubt as to your retirement SCD, consult with your benefits specialist, check your annual benefits statement or utilize your agency’s automated HR system (e.g., EBIS, etc.)

Year Month Day
Retirement Date 2012 12 31
SCD 1980 05 15
Length of Service 32 07 16

Sick leave is converted from hours to months and days of service and is then added to the computation.  OPM has developed a sick leave conversion chart.  An easy to access version of this chart is available at http://www.usgs.gov/humancapital/pb/sicklvconchart.html

Year Month Day
Length without S/L 32 07 16
S/L credit 08 21
Total length of service 33 04 07

At this point, the seven remaining days of service are dropped.  In the above example, once we have completed the math and dropped the excess days, the 8 months and 21 days of sick leave resulted in a 9 month increase in length of service.

The crediting of sick leave is covered in pre-retirement seminars.  All employees nearing retirement should take advantage of any pre-retirement training offered by their agency.

© 2014 John Grobe. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from John Grobe.

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John Grobe

John Grobe is a retired federal employee with over 25 years of experience in federal human resources and President of Federal Career Experts, a training and consulting firm that specializes in federal employee retirement and career transition issues.

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